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Performance

Overall Performance

The X100 isn't an especially fast camera, but in normal operation it's not so slow as to be really annoying either. It takes a couple of seconds from flicking the 'On' switch to being ready to shoot, but from then on it's generally responsive to button presses and so on. The four-way controller can feel a little 'laggy' when setting options such as WB and drive mode or moving the focus point, but not so much as to really get in your way.

The camera takes a while to reactivate from auto-power down following a half-press of the shutter button (it can't be 'woken' by any of the other controls). This process can be speeded up by enabling 'Quick Start Mode' in the Set-up menu, but Fujifilm warns this comes at the expense of battery life.

Unfortunately, though, the X100's operational speed is rather spoiled by one quite fundamental flaw. The camera locks-up all of its button-driven operations while it's writing files to the memory card, and if you're shooting RAW this can take up to 7 seconds, even with a reasonably fast SD card. You can still autofocus or change the shutter speed, aperture, and exposure compensation, but during this time you can't change the ISO, switch between the OVF and EVF, focus manually or move the AF point while the camera is writing to card. (Strangely if you press the AF button, the camera will enter the AF point selection screen, but then refuse to do anything more.) All of these issues seriously undermine the X100's 'professional' pretensions.

Oddly, you can speed up file write times significantly if you enable image review after each shot; this can cut lockup times in half. But this comes with its own, quite bizarre bug. If you change the shutter speed, aperture or exposure compensation, and then half-press to refocus and take another picture while the review image is still being displayed, the camera completely fails to register your new exposure values, meaning the shot is captured at the last-used settings.

File Write / Lockup Times

The X100, unusually and frustratingly, locks you out of changing any button-driven setting (including ISO) while it's writing a file to card after you've taken a shot. Write times are dependent upon the SD card, so you'll want to use the fastest you can find - if you shoot raw the latest UHS-I cards offer a real benefit.

Write times are also affected by the image review time (Image Disp in the Set-Up) menu, and setting this to 3 seconds cuts them dramatically compared to having it turned off. Note though that if you cancel the image preview with a half-press of the shutter, this will negatively impact write times again (we can only assume the X100 is using the same processor to deal with both the live view feed and the data being sent to the card). Below are approximate timings, using two cards; note the substantial improvement from using one of the latest UHS-I type.

File type
Image review 3 sec
Image review Off
UHS-I*
Class 10**
UHS-I*
Class 10**
Large/Fine JPEG
1.5 sec
1.5 sec
3 sec
4 sec
RAW
2.2 sec
3 sec
4.5 sec
7.5 sec
RAW + Large/Fine JPEG
3.1 sec
3.5 sec
6.5 sec
10 sec

* UHS-I - SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/s Class 1 UHS-I
** Class 10 - Sandisk Extreme 4GB Class 10 SDHC

Continuous Shooting and Buffering

The X100 has a choice of two continuous drive speeds, labeled 3 and 5 fps; we measured the latter to be slightly slower than advertised at 4.7 fps (scarcely anything to worry about). It has pretty decent buffering too, at 10 JPEG frames, or 8 in RAW (with or without an accompanying JPEG). However once you take your finger off the shutter button the camera locks up completely until it's finished writing data to card.

Again this lockup time is dependent upon the SD card used, although rather less so than when shooting stills (presumably because the camera doesn't attempt to provide a live view feed while it's writing). If you really want to continue shooting you can cancel file write by pressing the DISP/BACK button; once the camera's finished with the current image it brings up a dialogue asking you to press BACK again to confirm. Obviously you then lose any unwritten shots in the burst.

File format
Buffer
Write Time
UHS-I*
Class 10**
Large / Fine JPEG
10 frames
14 sec
14 sec
RAW
8 frames
20 sec
20 sec
RAW + LF JPEG
8 frames
22 sec
27 sec

* UHS-I - SanDisk Extreme Pro 45MB/s Class 1 UHS-I
** Class 10 - Sandisk Extreme 4GB Class 10 SDHC

Autofocus speed / accuracy

Autofocus speed is not the X100's strongest point, although it's not a huge weakness either. In good light it's just fine, and will rarely be so slow as to make you miss shots. But it's nowhere near as quick as the current state-of-the-art contrast-detect AF systems found in the latest mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras such as the Panasonic GF2.

In very low light - a dimly-lit bar or pub, for example - the X100 will often completely fail to focus without the aid of its autofocus illuminator lamp, under conditions in which some of its competitors have no such trouble. However if you turn the AF illuminator on, you may well end up (as we did) with a fine set of portraits of your friends shielding their eyes from this blindingly-bright white LED lamp.

Even with the focus illuminator function turned on, we have found that, depending on the lighting conditions, the X100 can be frustratingly reticent to actually activate it. This problem tends to emerge when shooting dark subjects in front of comparatively bright backgrounds. In a situation like this the X100 is liable to boldly decide that there is enough light to focus without the AF assist lamp, and if it's wrong, then you're simply out of luck. Sadly there is no option to force the AF illuminator to fire.

The X100 believed that there was enough light on the subject in this scene (taken at ISO 6400, 1/20sec at f/2 with the central AF point selected) to achieve automatic focus without the aid of the AF illuminator. Unfortunately it was wrong.

It's worth noting at this point that the X100 has no face detection system, which is a feature we'd expect to see on the spec sheet of any live view-capable camera in this day and age. This is particularly odd as Fujifilm was one of the very first manufacturers to introduce the technology, even applying the 'fd' suffix to several models right back at its infancy in 2006.

There are two ways of looking at this omission, the more charitable of which is to contend that the X100's target user base should be sufficiently well-versed in the use of off-center focus points and focus-recompose techniques not to need such a crutch. The problem with this argument, though, is that face detection has been improved and refined to such an extent that it's now a genuinely useful photographic tool on many of the X100's competitors - not just in terms of focusing, but consequently in achieving optimal exposure in difficult lighting conditions, for example strong backlighting. The net result is that you'll have to pay a bit more attention to focus and exposure when using the X100 to photograph people compared to cameras such as the Panasonic GF2 or Olympus PENs.

Battery life

The X100 uses Fujifilm's venerable NP-95 battery, as used in the company's 'Real 3D' compacts and the FinePix F30/F31fd before that. Unfortunately in the X100 it can't match the prodigious lifespan it offered in with these legendary compacts. As always battery life is highly dependent upon how much you use the rear LCD: with mixed viewfinder usage and image review on the LCD we routinely got a couple of hundred shots, but this could undoubtedly be stretched substantially further if you only use the optical finder. The camera's battery level meter isn't a huge amount of help - there's only two steps below 'full', and the dreaded red 'exhausted' follows 'part-empty' after just a few shots.

If you mainly shoot with the optical finder you can turn on 'OVF power save mode', which promises to increase battery life by not continually reading data out from the sensor. Its main disadvantages are that autofocus lag is a bit longer and the live histogram is no longer available - instead the X100 shows a sad, empty box in its place, for no obvious reason. If you mainly shoot in manual mode, the live histogram doesn't work properly anyway, so turning OVF power save on is worth considering; however in other exposure modes the histogram is a sufficiently useful that we'd be inclined to keep it at the expense of battery life.

One other setting that has an effect on battery life is 'Quick Start Mode'. Operationally this is highly desirable - as its name suggests, it decreases start-up times - but according to Fujifilm this comes at the cost of battery life. On balance, we'd leave it on, and buy a couple of spare batteries instead (third party versions are widely available and inexpensive).

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Comments

Total comments: 4
BobFoster

It took the industry 15 years to arrive at this digital camera. Looks like the awesome cameras from back in the days when camera builders gave a shajt. It is made in Japan, that alone will make me buy this unit. It looks like a real camera, not like the gazillions of plastic Chinese made bs that flooded the US market in the bast 25 years. Great job Fujifilm, this camera will put you on the top of the game (as long as you keep the Made in Japan stamp on it.)

1 upvote
reanim888

looking at other prices cameras with no AA filter demand quite a significantly greater premium maybe by as much as 50 % over there standard counterpart example d800/d800e i think it deserves another full star at least , i dont think you understood the settings and buttons and functions of this camera i think if you did it would eliminate all your negative comments and now i can get this camera for below $700 AU

1 upvote
sixtiesphotographer

On October 18, 2013, Fuji updated the firmware once again to revision 2.0

2 upvotes
Dennis

Fujifilm Finepix X100 firmware V1.30
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/05/15/Fujifilm-WCL-X100-wide-angle-converter-lens-firmware-v-1-3-0

Fujifilm Finepix X100 firmware V2.00
http://www.dpreview.com/news/2013/10/18/back-from-the-dead-fujifilm-boosts-x100-with-major-firmware-upgrade

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
2 upvotes
Total comments: 4